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on November 20, 2009

The Richmond Library’s Bookmobile is the system’s library on wheels, serving children. The program was founded in 1947, and was the first of its kind west of the Mississippi. The converted bus travels four days a week and visits 21 schools around the city.

Students can climb aboard the moving library when it stops at their school for just under an hour and check out up to six books each until the next week. They can also register for a library card on the bookmobile, or pay outstanding fines.

The bookmobile sees between five and seven thousand visitors a month throughout the city. Many schools in Richmond don’t have enough staffing to provide students with frequent access to their own libraries, so the bookmobile is a much-needed element supporting literacy among Richmond’s children.

The bus has its own collection, with lots of books on animals and science, but can also draw from the Main library when necessary. The shelves on board can hold about 3,500 books at a time. Books with pictures, animals and easy chapters are the most popular. Unlike at most other libraries, children can also bring home reference books, including encyclopedia volumes and atlases. Children can make requests or ask reference questions while on the bookmobile, or by calling the phone number. A few books on parenting are also available.

Only Richmond schools can take advantage of the bookmobile, although the Contra Costa County library system doesn’t have a traveling library, and schools outside the city limits frequently plead for visits from the bus. It serves both public and private schools, but a school must make good use of it, or the librarian will take it to another school on the waiting list.

For more information about the Bookmobile, call (510) 307-8089.

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Richmond Confidential is an online news service produced by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism for, and about, the people of Richmond, California. Our goal is to produce professional and engaging journalism that is useful for the citizens of the city.

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